Hard to believe that it has been more than 15 years since the Montreal Expos played their final game ever at Shea Stadium in New York (where, ironically, they played their first ever game 35 years earlier) before the team packed their bags and headed south to Washington, D.C. and became the Nationals.
And regardless of the fortunes that the Nationals have went through (including beating the Houston Astros last fall to win the World Series), the up and down history of “Nos Amours” have fostered many fond memories that will remain in the hearts and minds of their many mourning fans.
Veteran writer and author Danny Gallagher is one of those fans. So far, he has written five books about the Expos’ glorious history on the diamond and their contributions to the world of Major League Baseball during their short 35-year existence, those tri-colour pinwheel hats and Blue Monday notwithstanding. With his sixth book, Always Remebered, Gallagher has tapped into his vast knowledge of the team that will certainly foster even more fond memories of the Expos and their unique collection of players who have literally stepped up to the plate.
The book’s subtitle is “New revelations and old tales about those fabulous Expos”, and believe me, there are plenty of both to satisfy any Expos fan of any generation. Of course, there are stories that pay tribute to the players who put the franchise on the map, such as Rusty Staub, Gary Carter, Steve Rogers, Andre Dawson, Tim Raines, Larry Walker and Vladimir Guerrero. But Gallagher pays fitting tribute to the players and personalities who were the team’s overlooked and underrated unsung heroes. They include Elroy Face, the oldest living former Expo who played during the team’s inaugural season and posted a 4-2 record during his short time in Montreal; Mack Jones, the famed “Mayor of Jonesville”; Chuck Taylor, the relief pitcher who was one of the rare bright spots during the Expos’ mid-70s decline; Mike Marshall, also a relief pitcher (but a rather eccentric person off the diamond), whose skills on the mound lifted the team to its first wining season in 1973; and Russ Taylor, the veteran CFCF sports reporter who was one-half of the Expos’ broadcast team with Dave Van Horne until his untimely death in 1977 from a sudden heart attack.
As well, the book is filled with a great deal of Expos stories that were relegated to the clubhouse and for the most part, are being revealed for the first time, much to the readers’ delight. You will discover for the first time about when actor/director Ron Howard, who is a big time baseball fan, put on an Expos uniform during a game at Dodger Stadium in 1982 (he was a good friend of then Expos hitting coach Billy DeMars), and hung out in the dugout, but was ejected by an umpire during the third inning, because news photographers kept on taking pictures of Howard in his Expos uniform, and they believed it was causing a distraction to the game. And then there was the time in 1995 when the team drafted a prospect who played as a catcher at his high school in San Mateo, California. Although his skills as a baseball player was better, this prospect was offered a football scholarship to the University of Michigan. Encouraged by a great many people to take the scholarship, he agreed to do so, and ended up carving out quite an impressive career in the NFL. That almost Expo? None other than Patriots/Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady.
It’s this mix of the familiar and the never-heard-before that makes Always Remembered such an entertaining book. Gallagher has done a diligent job digging up so many facts and stories with the endless resources that were at his disposal, not to mention the countless interviews he has done with so many former players, journalists, broadcasters and front office personnel, that makes the book the long awaited fitting tribute that the Expos so richly deserve.
So whether you attended Expos games at Jarry Park or Olympic Stadium, remember Le Grand Orange, Bill Stoneman’s no hitters, Dennis Martinez’s perfect game and yes, even “Blue Monday”, you will never forget the Expos’ colourful legacy in Always Remebered. As well, it certainly solidifies Danny Gallagher’s reputation as the authoritative chronicler of the team that we have always affectionately referred to as “Nos Amours”.